Belfast Telegraph

Cheesemaker takes a slice of Far East market

By Clare Weir

A Co Tyrone cheesemaker has won a deal with a major retail operation in the Far East.

Fivemiletown Creamery's award-winning soft cheeses, including Boilie Irish goats' cheese and cream cheddar, will now be seen on the shelves of numerous stores in Hong Kong.

The business has been awarded by Dairy Farm International Holdings, headquartered in Hong Kong, which operates some 5,250 outlets, employs over 81,000 people and had total annual sales in 2010 exceeding $9bn (£5.7bn).

Dairy Farm operates the Welcome chain, the region's biggest retailer, which has more than 240 stores and serves more than 14 million customers every month in Hong Kong.

At a later stage, the Tyrone firm's products could be sold at other Dairy Farm interests in Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Fivemiletown already supplies to Sainsbury's, ASDA, Tesco and Harrods in the UK and Walmart and Dean -amp; Deluca in the US, as well as French retailer Galeries Lafayette.

The firm, founded in 1898, currently employs 88 people and sells around 90% of its soft cheeses outside Northern Ireland.

Owen Jones (left), Fivemiletown Creamery's business development manager, said that the contract will act as a "springboard" for growth in one of the world's most dynamic marketplaces.

"As a result of our developing focus on exports, we are now selling our soft cheeses in 15 global markets including Hong Kong," he said.

"Our achievements in these markets brings tangible benefits to the Tyrone and Fermanagh communities in terms of the best prices for high protein milk to our farmers and additional job opportunities.

"Our rapidly growing success in markets outside Northern Ireland is helping to strengthen employment prospects in Tyrone."

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said the contract is a significant milestone for Fivemiletown Creamery.

"It is an excellent example of a well established, forward looking company that has recognised the need to continue to add value to its services in order to remain competitive," she said.

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